A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Himbleton parish is watered in the north by Dean Brook, a tributary of Bow Brook, which it joins in the hamlet of Shell. Another tributary of Bow Brook called Little Brook forms part of the southern boundary. Bow Brook itself passes through the village of Himbleton, and Habington says of this parish, 'She is well watered yf not to muche in winter.' (fn. 1) The parish is low in the valleys of these brooks, Neight Hill to the south-east of the village being the highest point, about 190ft. above the ordnance datum.
The area of the parish is 2,373 acres, (fn. 2) of which 631 are arable, 1,302 permanent grass and 133 woods. (fn. 3) The soil is principally clay on the Lower Lias formation, and the chief crops are wheat, beans and barley.
The village of Himbleton lies about 5 miles south-east of Droitwich and 7½ miles north-east of Worcester. The village, though a small one, is particularly rich in examples of half-timber work of the 16th and 17th centuries. Of these the finest is Shell Manor Farm, which stands about a mile to the north of the church, by the side of Bow Brook, and is approached by a ford, with a stone footbridge. Roughly the plan resembles an H, and consists of a central entrance hall facing south with rooms on either side of it, the eastern limb of the plan projecting considerably further northward than that on the west. The house is half-timbered and two stories high with wattle and daub filling, the sills resting on a plinth of local limestone. It appears to date from the 16th century, but there is a brick addition of the 19th century at the north end of the east wing. The ground floor of the west wing is divided into a larger and a smaller room by an original stud partition with a four-centred doorway, now blocked, in the centre. The walls of the former room are lined with early 17th-century panelling, having a well-carved frieze; panelling of similar date and character exists in the room above. The original entrance doorway at the south-east of the hall has been blocked, but the early 17th-century porch remains untouched. The posts and head of the outer doorway are ogee-moulded, and the room above is brought slightly forward, the sill being supported by plain console brackets. The interior has been entirely modernized, and the present entrance and stairs are in the east wing. The lower portions of the chimney stacks on the north and east are of rubble masonry, and are surmounted by fine brick shafts, those on the east being formed by the intersection of two squares, while those on the north are plain diagonal shafts. The chimney stack on the west side of the house is more elaborate. The base is of ashlar work surmounted by a capping of brick, with gablets at the angles, above which rise two diagonal shafts of the same material. The roof timbers of this wing have arched braces, and generally there is more elaboration on this side, which probably included the private apartments, while the kitchen and offices were on the opposite side of the hall, beneath which portion there is a cellar. The half-timbered front of the house with its tiled roof, flanked by the two gabled wings, is extremely picturesque. Of the farm buildings the weather-boarded barn on the east of the forecourt appears to be contemporary in date with the house.
Court Farm, standing to the west of the church in Himbleton itself, is an L-shaped two-storied half-timber house of very similar arrangement, and appears to date entirely from the late 16th century. The entrance porch is of three stories, the attic gabled and windowless. A new entrance and stairs have been constructed on the east of the original hall. A cellar exists beneath this portion of the house, with walls of rubble masonry. Brook Farm, also of half timber and of similar date, has a fine projecting gable, supported by richly carved console brackets.
The Manor Farm, now divided into two cottages and known as the Church Cottages, is another half-timbered house, with a large pigeon-house of the same material. Until lately there was a pair of handsome chimneys of triangular section, but these, though not dilapidated, have been pulled down. To the east of the village stands Himbleton Manor, formerly the residence of the late Sir Douglas Galton, K.C.B., and now occupied by his daughter Mrs. Gascoigne.
The hamlet of Dunhampstead is partly in Oddingley. A moat still existed on the site of the ancient manor-house in 1865, when Himbleton was visited by the Worcester Naturalists' Club, (fn. 6) but it now seems to have disappeared. Shernal Green is a hamlet to the extreme north-west, and Phepson and Shell (fn. 7) are in the north of the parish. Earl's Common is a hamlet to the east of the village, and near it are several woods, the largest of which are Harnil Wood, Saldon Wood, Rabbit Wood, Bossil Wood, and King's Wood.
Lime-burning is carried on to some extent in the parish, (fn. 8) but there are no traces of the coal mines said to have been worked here in the 17th century. In 1868 and at the present day glove-sewing employs some of the female population. (fn. 9) In 1744 the house of Thomas Baker was licensed for Baptists, (fn. 10) but there is no Dissenting chapel there now.
A considerable quantity of Roman pottery was found in a limestone quarry in 1865, (fn. 11) and at the same place some prehistoric implements made from the horns of red deer were discovered.
Places mentioned as being on the boundary of Himbleton in the 9th century are Egcbrihtingethyrne, Scipenelea, Maigdenbrycge, Bercrofte, Cestergeate, Ceasterwege, Langenleage, Deorleage, Midlestanwicwege, (fn. 12) Baddon Aesc, Wadlege, Ennanpol, Wynnastigele, Lytlanbrook, Hymelbroc, Hennuc, (fn. 13) Blacanpyt, Aescbed, Biscespeswuda, Ealdandic, Maerford, Ipwaelhylle. (fn. 14)
Seventeenth-century names are Puckhill, Finch Grove, Quarter Grove, Ansells, Dunnam Grove, Harnell, Great and Little Moone Shaft, Nether Held, Fower Men's Coppice, Nynteene Lands, Alcott Wood, Oaken Vallett Coppice, Fursale Coppice, Light Grove Coppice, (fn. 15) Court Orchard, Oldberry, Wallsett, Stocking. (fn. 16)
According to the Register of Worcester Priory, Coenwulf, King of Mercia, gave HIMBLETON to the church of Worcester at the beginning of the 9th century. (fn. 17) This statement probably refers, however, to a charter of Coenwulf dated 816, by which he freed this among other estates from all royal exactions except the building of strongholds and bridges and military service, (fn. 18) and from this it would seem that the manor had been given to the church prior to 816. By a charter dated 884 Ethelred Ealdorman (dux) of Mercia granted the land of five 'manentes' at Himbleton to Ethelwulf, making it free of tribute. (fn. 19) This land probably passed afterwards to the church of Worcester, for in 975–6 Archbishop Oswald (fn. 20) demised a hide of land at Himbleton to his servant Wulfgeat for two lives. (fn. 21) According to the historian of Worcester Priory, Himbleton was among the lands alienated by Bishop Brihteah (1033–8). He gave it to his brother Aethelric or Alric, who was, however, deprived of it by Earl William of Hereford, 'so that,' continues the historian, 'the possession is up till now alienated from the church.' (fn. 22) This story is to some extent substantiated by the fact that Aethelric had held Himbleton in the time of King Edward, but in 1086 Roger de Lacy, who then held the manor, did service for it to the monks at their manor of Hallow. (fn. 23) Himbleton was then waste, and, together with Spetchley, was assigned to the support of the monks. (fn. 24)
Roger de Lacy still held the manor at the beginning of the 12th century, (fn. 25) but his descendant Hugh de Lacy lost it before the time of Henry II, for it was then stated that Hugh ought to hold of the Bishop of Worcester 3½ hides of land in Himbleton and Spetchley, which Roger de Lacy anciently held, but that Hugh Poer then held them of Walter de 'Marine.' (fn. 26) This Walter de 'Marine' was evidently Walter de Meduana, who was said in a survey of about the same date to be holding Himbleton and Spetchley in right of his wife Cecily late Countess of Hereford, evidently by grant of Hugh Poer, who stated that he acquitted Walter against the Bishop of Worcester for the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 27)
Isnard Parler is said to have held half the vill of Himbleton in the time of Henry I, (fn. 28) and with his wife Emma to have bestowed it upon the monastery of Worcester, (fn. 29) but this hardly agrees with a charter of Brian de Brompton and his wife Margery, by which they gave to the church of Worcester their part of Himbleton which Isnard and Emma had bequeathed to them, reserving to themselves a rent of 3s. yearly during their lives. William son of Guy de Offern grandson of Isnard confirmed this grant, which was also ratified by Hugh Poer, who claimed some interest in the land, evidently as overlord, by descent from his grandfather Walter Poer. (fn. 30)
The monks of Worcester were holding 2 carucates of land at Himbleton in 1240 and 1291, (fn. 31) and in 1248 the king granted that 3½ acres of assarted land there in the metes of Feckenham Forest should be held rent free by the prior and convent. (fn. 32) In 1378–9 the prior leased the manor to William Hull for a term of thirty years at a yearly rent of £14 2s. 8d. (fn. 33) It remained in the possession of the prior and convent until the dissolution of the priory in 1539–40. (fn. 34) It was granted in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 35) with whom it continued until sold in 1654 by order of the Parliament, described by Prattinton as 'that ever infamous and destructive Parliament and great enemy to all Hierarchy order and decency in church and state.' (fn. 36) It was purchased by Nicholas Lockyer, (fn. 37) a Puritan divine of some note, chaplain of Oliver Cromwell. (fn. 38) As mistakes had been made in its valuation, the lands being charged with payments to charitable uses, he was allowed in 1655 to reconvey the manor to the State. (fn. 39) At the Restoration it was recovered by the dean and chapter. It was confirmed to them in 1692–3, (fn. 40) and remained in their possession until it was taken over in 1859 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 41) who are now lords of the manor of Himbleton. (fn. 42)
A cassata of land at DUNHAMPSTEAD (Dunhamstyde, Dunhamstede, ix cent.; Dunestead, xvi cent.) was granted to the church of Worcester by Coenwulf, King of Mercia, in 814. (fn. 43) Land at Dunhampstead is also said to have been given to the monastery by Earedus and his wife Tunthrytha in 896. (fn. 44) Alfstan brother of Bishop Wulfstan, who succeeded as Prior of Worcester in 1062, purchased land in Dunhampstead for the priory. (fn. 45) It is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but seems with Ravenshill to be included in 2 hides held by two radmanni in the manor of Hallow. (fn. 46) The overlordship remained in the possession of the prior and convent. (fn. 47) It seems to have become annexed to the manor of Phepson, for in 1148 Bishop Simon confirmed Phepson with Dunhampstead (fn. 48) to the prior and convent.
By an undated charter John Rous of Ragley gave up to Ralph de Dynbergh and Joan his wife all his right in the manors of Dunhampstead and la Sale. (fn. 49) It was probably towards the end of the 13th century that Hugh de Caveruche gave to Peter de Saltmarsh of Dunhampstead and Alice his wife certain land in Dunhampstead. (fn. 50) Peter de Saltmarsh paid a subsidy of 3s. at Dunhampstead in 1280, and at the same date Lady Parnel de Dunhampstead paid 5s. 6d. (fn. 51) Alice, who is called in a deed of 1310–11 lady of Dunhampstead, was evidently the widow of Peter de Saltmarsh. (fn. 52)
Edward de Dunhampstead by a charter without date gave to Walter de Lench and his wife Joan certain lands in Dunhampstead, (fn. 53) and in 1329–30 John Lench son and heir of Walter gave all his land in Dunhampstead and la Sale to William de Eccleshall, chaplain. (fn. 54) Ten years later Walter Lench acquired land in la Sale of William son of Richard Saundyes, (fn. 55) and in 1342–3 land near the churchyard of Dunhampstead from John de Mone. (fn. 56) In 1347–8 Nicholas de la Sale, rector of Spernore (Spernall, co. Warw.), gave to Walter all his property in la Sale, (fn. 57) and at the same date Thomas de Beauchamp gave him 30 acres in Dunhampstead. (fn. 58) It was probably his widow who as Joan wife of Ralph Dynbych granted in 1368–9 to Walter de Lench a third of a messuage which she held as dower. (fn. 59) Ralph and Joan were dealing with land in Dunhampstead in 1404–5, (fn. 60) but Ralph died soon after and his widow conveyed the manors of Dunhampstead and Sale to trustees in 1406. (fn. 61) This was probably a preliminary to the gift of the manor in 1408 by Joan, then called Joan de Dunhampstead, to the Prior and convent of Worcester. (fn. 62) This manor is not mentioned in the Valor of the priory lands in 1535, but probably remained in the possession of successive priors until the Dissolution, and was granted with the other priory lands to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, for in 1575 the dean petitioned Burghley that his college might not be deprived of the farm of Dunhampstead on Mr. Ralph Holliwell's pretence of concealed lands. (fn. 63) This petition was probably made on account of a grant by the Crown in 1574 to John and William Marsh of land in Dunhampstead held by Richard Halliwell. (fn. 64) No further reference to Dunhampstead has been found, but the so-called manor was sold by Judge Amphlett, K.C., of Wychbold Hall, in 1911 to Mr. Gibbs of Tibberton, the present owner. (fn. 65)
PHEPSON (Fepsetnatune, x cent.; Fepsintun, xii cent.; Fepsynton, xiii cent.; Phepston, xvii cent.) was granted by King Eadwig to the monastery of Worcester in 956, (fn. 66) and at the date of the Domesday Survey the monks owned 6 hides there, 5 of which paid geld, Walter Poer being their under-tenant. (fn. 67) Henry I freed 4 hides at Phepson from 'geld,' (fn. 68) and by a charter without date William son of Almaric confirmed the gift of his grandfather William son of Herman to the monks of Worcester of all the land in Phepson which was of the hide of Trunchet, (fn. 69) free from all services. (fn. 70)
Bishop Simon confirmed Phepson to the prior and convent in 1148. (fn. 71) In 1231 the manor of Phepson was let to farm to the men of the vill for eight years. (fn. 72) They were still holding it in 1240, (fn. 73) and the lease fell in in 1253. (fn. 74) From that time all trace of the manor disappears, and it probably became merged in the manor of Himbleton. In the 13th century Phepson seems to have been a member of the manor of Stoke Prior, (fn. 75) and is said to have been in the liberty of the hundred of Stoke. (fn. 76)
A tithe barn and close at Phepson were sold in 1656 as late possessions of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester to George Hooper of Westminster. (fn. 77)
In 1086 Roger de Lacy owned SHELL (Scelves, xi cent.; Shelne, Schelne, xiii cent.; Shelbe, xvi cent.), and Herman held it of him. In the time of King Edward it had been held as two manors by Aelfwig. (fn. 78) The Lacy's interest in the manor evidently passed like their lordship at Spetchley to the lords of Inkberrow, Shell being held of that manor in 1375–6 (fn. 79) and in the 15th century. (fn. 80) It probably continued to be held of the manor of Inkberrow until 1536, when a rent of 1d. was paid from the manor to Lord Bergavenny. (fn. 81) In 1275–6 the jurors of the hundred court presented that William de Valence, who then owned Inkberrow, had appropriated Shell and Morton Underhill to his liberty of Nobury in Inkberrow. (fn. 82)
Herman's tenancy of the manor evidently passed to William son of Herman, who by an undated charter, which was confirmed by his grandson William son of Almaric, gave land in Phepson to the monks of Worcester, promising to acquit Phepson from all royal services, which should from henceforth be supplied from his land of Shell. (fn. 83)
Shell, which seems to have followed the same descent as Hill Croome in early times, is probably to be identified with the 'Solive' which was held by William de la Hull in 1194–5. (fn. 84) Whether William's interest in the manor was that of overlord or tenant is not clear, but he sold the vill of Shell in 1206–7 to William Marshal Earl of Pembroke.
The tenancy of the manor afterwards passed to a family who took their name from the estate. Alexander de Shell settled a messuage, a mill and half a virgate of land in Shell in 1268–9 upon himself and his wife Alice and Alexander his son. (fn. 85) Simon de Shell paid a subsidy of 2s. at Shell and Crowle in 1280, and at the same date Geoffrey de Shell paid 2s. 6d. at Phepson, (fn. 86) while in 1282 William de Shell came before the king and sought to recover his land in Shell which he had forfeited for his default against John de Haulton. (fn. 87) In 1292 Richard de Berton presented to the chapel of Shell, (fn. 88) whose advowson appears to have belonged to the lords of the manor, and in 1295 Richard 'called Barcham' presented. (fn. 89) The usual form of the name seems to have been Bartram. Richard de Bartram held the manor in 1297–8. (fn. 90) Maud Bartram is called lady of Shell in 1325, (fn. 91) and two years later Agnes Bartram paid a subsidy of 40d. at Shell. (fn. 92) Roger de Butterley, who was lord of Shell in 1344, (fn. 93) was holding in 1346, jointly with the Prior of Worcester, a thirteenth of a fee in Shell which Richard 'Herthram' once held. (fn. 94) Lucy Bartram held the manor in 1361, (fn. 95) and John Bartram seems to have been in possession in 1375–6. (fn. 96) John son of John de Shell and grandson of Richard Shell or Bartram, who presented to the chapel in 1382, (fn. 97) died in 1384–5, leaving a son John, aged ten. (fn. 98) The latter died a minor in 1395–6, his heir being his cousin Thomas Best, grandson of Maud sister of Richard Bartram, John's great-grandfather. (fn. 99) The advowson of the chapel, and possibly also the manor, soon afterwards passed to the Webbs, Henry Webb presenting in 1399 and 1400. (fn. 100) In 1410 and 1413 William Webb, whose relationship to Henry is not known, and Thomas Hawkeslow, who had married Sibil sister of Henry Webb, were patrons of the chapel of Shell. (fn. 101) The manor subsequently passed to the college of Westbury, but neither the donor nor the date of the gift is known. In 1535 it brought in a rent of £6 9s. 11d. to the college. (fn. 102)
The college was surrendered to Henry VIII on 10 February 1544, (fn. 103) and its possessions, including the manor of Shell, were granted on 22 March to Sir Ralph Sadleir, (fn. 104) who sold the manor of Shell to Thomas and Richard Finch or Fincher in 1549–50. (fn. 105) The shares of these two brothers follow a different descent. (fn. 106) Thomas Fincher died in 1590, having previously, in 1567, settled the manor on his wife Joan, with remainder to his third son Robert. (fn. 107) The latter, dying in 1593, was followed by his sons Thomas and John in succession. (fn. 108) John was followed about 1663 by his grandson John Fincher, (fn. 109) who died before 1717, (fn. 110) when his son Philip and his five daughters were dealing with the manor. (fn. 111) Philip died in 1755, and the manor passed to co-heirs, Mary wife of Thomas Hornblower, Mary Fincher and Anne Fincher. (fn. 112) Thomas Hornblower conveyed a third of the manor in 1801–2 to William Humphreys, (fn. 113) and Anne wife of Nicholas Pearsall, who conveyed the manor of Shell in 1795–6 to Matthew Jefferys, (fn. 114) was perhaps Anne Fincher mentioned above. Later the whole manor passed to Henry Payton, who died in 1819, (fn. 115) when it was sold to Edward Bearcroft, (fn. 116) whose grandson, Colonel Edward Hugh Bearcroft, C.B., is now lord of the manor of Shell. (fn. 117)
The moiety of the manor of Shell bought by Richard Fincher from Sir Ralph Sadleir was given by the former in 1563 to his prospective son-in-law Ralph Lench. (fn. 118) Richard, however, seems to have retained a life interest, for Ralph Lench and Elizabeth his wife did not enter into possession of the manor until after Richard's death in 1581. (fn. 119) George Lench, who was the owner of the manor in Habington's time, (fn. 120) was possibly Ralph's son. John Lench was the owner in 1651 (fn. 121) and in 1655. (fn. 122) In 1671 John Kerver and his wife Elizabeth, Elizabeth Lench, only daughter and heir of George Lench, deceased, and John Lench of Doverdale conveyed the manor to Paul Foley. (fn. 123) Paul died in 1699, leaving a son Thomas, who died in 1737. (fn. 124) His son Thomas was created Lord Foley of Kidderminster in 1776, and his grandson Thomas Lord Foley was dealing with the manor of Shell in 1802. (fn. 125) This portion of the manor seems also to have passed to the Bearcrofts.
There was a mill in the Prior of Worcester's manor of Himbleton in the middle of the 13th century, (fn. 126) but it seems to have disappeared before the middle of the 16th.
There is a water corn-mill on Bow Brook at Shell. The first mention of it seems to be in 1268–9, when it was in the possession of Alexander de Shell and his son Alexander. (fn. 127) It afterwards belonged to the college of Westbury, and was evidently granted to Sir Ralph Sadleir with the manor. (fn. 128)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE consists of a chancel and nave without division 70¾ft. long (of which about 27 ft. belong to the chancel) by 18ft. in width, north aisle 40 ft. by 10½ ft., with a modern vestry, communicating with it by a passage, south transept 12 ft. deep by 11 ft. wide, and a south porch. A small bell-turret of wood rises above the roof at the west end of the nave. All the measurements are internal.
The 12th-century church consisted of a nave, with a narrower chancel to the east of it, but of this building only the south doorway and part of the south nave wall remain. About 1240 the chancel appears to have been entirely rebuilt of the same width as the nave. The next addition was about 1370, when the south transept was built as a chapel, and at the same period the arch of the early south door was reconstructed and the porch added. The west and south-west walls of the nave were rebuilt, probably when the wood turret was first erected in the 15th century. The aisle was an addition of the 16th century, and many of the windows were altered at the same or a later period. The chief restoration during the past century was undertaken in 1893; the vestry is quite a modern addition.
The east window, of three pointed lancets, is mainly of 13th-century date, but the buttresses at the eastern angles of the chancel are modern. Of the four windows in the side walls the first pair are original, each being of two lights with a square head. The second on the north is also a square-headed, two-light opening, but the window opposite is entirely modern. The archway to the transept appears to be 14th-century work and has two continuous chamfered orders. The south transept or chapel has a window in each wall; that to the east has three square-headed lights and is original. To the south is a 14th-century window of two lights with a quatrefoil over. The two-light west window, of similar date, has a plain spandrel in the head, and in the sill is a piscina basin. Cut on the south-west diagonal buttress of the transept is a sundial. The south window of the nave is a plain square-headed opening of two lights, the stonework of which is old. The south doorway has 12th-century jambs of two square orders, with shafts in the angles, having carved capitals and moulded bases. The western shaft is modern and the pointed arch is of late 14th-century date. The contemporary wood door is divided into nine main panels by rails, each subdivided into four by muntins, the thirty-six panels thus formed being quatrefoiled. The north arcade consists of three bays, with arches of two chamfered orders, resting on slight octagonal columns, with chamfered bases and moulded capitals. The responds have been partly cut away, and beyond the eastern respond is the blocked square-headed doorway to the former rood stair. The west window of the nave has three square-headed lights and has been much repaired.
The east window of the aisle is of three lights with plain four-centred heads under a flat lintel. The first window in the north wall is similar, and the other two resemble it in type, but are of two lights each. The west window of the aisle is entirely modern. The north doorway is old and has a four-centred arch of a single chamfered order. It now opens into the passage to the new vestry.
The south porch is of timber on low stone walls, each side having an arcade of trefoiled openings; the outer doorway is arched, and above it is an open timbered gable. The bargeboard is panelled with quatrefoils and the roof is tiled. The sloping sides of the lower part of the bell-turret are covered with oak shingles, and above this rises the belfry, which is of half-timber work filled in with rough-cast and crowned by a pyramidal tiled roof. The belfry windows are of two lights under flat lintels. The walls generally are of rubble, but the west wall of the nave and the south wall west of the porch, which were rebuilt in the 15th or 16th century, are of ashlar, chiefly red sandstone.
The gabled roofs retain some of their old 15th or 16th-century timbers. Both chancel and nave have ancient pointed barrel trusses, once plastered, and the chancel wall-plates are moulded and embattled. The corresponding feature in the nave has carved flowers at intervals, but is largely modern. The transept has a gabled roof with plain embattled wall-plates, and the aisle is roofed with barrel trusses, the timbers of both being old but plain. Across the chancel is a modern rood beam.
The font is square in plan, the sides of the bowl being chamfered below and having a Paschal Lamb carved on the east face. The stem is moulded at the top and the base is modern. The original portion may be as early as the 12th century. An 18th-century marble font on a carved baluster stem now stands in the vestry. This was made for Hanbury Church, and afterwards went to the new church at Finstall, in each case making way for a modern Gothic font.
In the church is a quantity of old stained glass (fn. 129) and other modern glass, very closely resembling it. The only old piece in the east window is a small figure of St. Mary Magdalene with the name inscribed below. In the north-west window of the chancel are some fragments including the greater part of the figures of St. Anne and the Virgin. The east window of the transept has ancient glass in the side lights. On the north is St. Mary with two kneeling figures in blue below and the words in black letters 'Sancta Maria ora pro nobis,' and on the south St. John with two similar figures and the inscription 'Sancte Johannes ora pro nobis.' Below all three lights is the inscription 'Orate pro animabus Henrici Godd et Agnetis uxoris ejus.' In the south window of the transept are a few old fragments, while the north-east window of the aisle contains in its western light an eagle on a tower said to be a badge of the Winters of Huddington; below this is a head on a geometrical figure, and under this the head, hand, spear and shield of St. George, with the dragon and skull of a human victim below, all mixed up with fragments of a robe, of which part of a nimbus and veil belong to the St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin in the chancel windows. In the middle light is a large R. E. with a W, (fn. 130) and below it the crowned figure of St. Catherine. Under these is a mantled helmet with the crest of an eagle and a shield: Quarterly: 1 and 4 quarterly: (1) Argent a bend azure with three cinqfoils or thereon, for Cooksey; (2) and (3) Gules a saltire argent in a border sable charged with molets or, for Hoddington; (4) Argent a bend gules with three buckles or thereon, for Cassey; 2 and 3. Sable two bars argent with three roundels argent in the chief, and the difference of a molet argent, for Hungerford. In the east light is the headless figure of St. John the Evangelist in blue vestments holding a chalice with a serpent issuing from it, and in the head of the light is a rebus of Cooksey; a kitchen table in a cockboat; between them the word 'Mņ' in a geometrical figure. Over the east window is a remarkable painting of the royal arms of Queen Elizabeth, executed on the plaster. Unfortunately this is fast fading away.
In the south transept are a number of gravestones to members of the Fincher family; one to Philip Fincher, died 1660, and others to John Fincher of Shell, died 1703, John died 1705, and Elizabeth his wife 1709. On the wall is a monument to Philip, the last male of the family of Fincher of Shell, died 1755, and other wall monuments of later date.
There are four bells, all cast by John Martin of Worcester in 1675. The inscriptions read: on the treble, 'Jesus be our good speed'; the second, 'Prayse and glory be to God for ever'; the third, 'Bee it known to all that doth we see, John Martin of Worcester hee made wee,' and the tenor, 'All men that heare my rorin sound, Repent beefore you ly in ground.'
The communion plate includes a cup and cover paten, inscribed 'Mr. John Fincher's gift to ye Church and Parish of Himbleton 1656 augmented 1688' (it bears no hall-mark, but the stamp S R four times), and a paten, also with no hall-mark, but inscribed 1688.
The advowson of Himbleton belonged to the priory of Worcester until the dissolution of their house, (fn. 131) when it passed to the Crown. It was granted with the manor in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 132) who are still the patrons.
In November 1389 the Prior and convent of Worcester obtained a licence to appropriate the church of Himbleton (fn. 133) to the guest-house of the monastery, which was then insufficiently endowed. The appropriation was confirmed by the pope in 1395. (fn. 134) In 1403 the vicarage was ordained, a pension of 10 marks and 16 acres of arable land being assigned to the vicar. (fn. 135) Shortly after the pension of 10 marks was doubled and the prior and convent undertook to pay 3s. 4d. to the poor parishioners of the parish. (fn. 136) In 1535 the rectory was annexed to that of Tibberton. (fn. 137)
In 1536 Cromwell wrote asking the Prior of Worcester to lease the tithe and parsonage of Himbleton to Robert Sturges. The prior replied that the rectory was always kept in his own hands and could not be spared, as the monks did not obtain sufficient corn from their tenants to meet their needs. (fn. 138)
There was a chapel at Shell annexed to the church of Hanbury. (fn. 139) The first presentation which has been found was made in 1292 by Richard Bartram, lord of the manor of Shell, and successive lords of the manor seem to have been patrons of this chapel (fn. 140) until 1413, when the last recorded presentation took place. (fn. 141) The chapel is not mentioned in the valuation of Hanbury rectory taken in 1535. The tithes of Shell continued, however, to belong to the lords of the manor until 1717 or later. (fn. 142) It was probably after the destruction of the chapel at Shell that a chapel in the church of Himbleton was assigned to the use of the inhabitants of Shell.
From entries in the register of Worcester Priory it seems possible that there were chapels at Phepson and Dunhampstead in the 13th century, for the Prior and convent of Worcester are said to have been patrons of the former by collation of King Edwy and of the latter by collation of King Coenwulf. (fn. 143) It is to be observed, however, that no mention is made of any chapel in the survey of either of these manors given in this register. No further reference to a chapel at Phepson has been found, but in a deed of 1342–3 land near the churchyard of Dunhampstead is mentioned. (fn. 144)
It appeared from the church table that the Rev. William Maschall, the vicar in 1633, the Rev. Samuel Wilkins (a former vicar) and Francis Mince gave certain donations for the use of the poor which cannot now be traced. A cottage with two dwellings situate near Road Bridge was subsequently purchased with a sum of £30, presumably representing these gifts with interest thereon. They were occupied by two poor persons rent free.
The church lands, formerly consisting of 3 r. 15 p., held by the vicar and churchwardens since 1657, were sold in 1907 and the proceeds invested in £59 11s. 1d. Birmingham Corporation 3 per cent. stock with the official trustees, producing £2 1s. 8d. yearly, which is used for church repairs in accordance with the description of the church lands in the 18th-century map of the parish, where the piece of land is labelled 'for church repairs.'